Vaccine distribution phases


Courtesy Max Skolnik

Skolnik poses with a card certifying that he received the Moderna vaccine.

COVID vaccine begins widespread US distribution

Megan Harper, Co-Managing Editor
Since the emergency use authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on December 11, many questions have been raised about who will get vaccinated first.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released guidelines for a phased distribution, with groups based on patient age, pre-existing medical conditions, and occupations.
Phase 1A includes frontline healthcare workers who have “direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials”, as well as residents of long-term care facilities.
Phase 1B includes adults 75 years or older and frontline essential workers such as PreK-12 educators, food supply, manufacturing, corrections, postal service, public transit, and grocery store workers.
Distribution has begun for the first two phases in Michigan and across the US, though Phase 1B has been rolled back in parts of Michigan due to lower-than-expected dosage availability and shipping issues.
“I will absolutely be getting the vaccine as soon as I can,” senior Jalen Jackson said. “I hope it will allow us to transition back into what life was before the pandemic and give us some of our freedoms and quality of life back.”
Phase 1C includes adults age 65 years or older and those at high risk for severe illness due to pre-existing health conditions such as COPD, heart disease, and diabetes. It also includes essential workers in transportation and logistics, food service, construction, finance, information technology/communications, energy, media, law, and public safety.
After vaccines are widely distributed across the three Phase 1 priority groups, Phase 2 will begin. Phase 2 is a mass vaccination campaign for all people over the age of 16 that were not previously listed in Phase 1.
“I know I’ll most likely get the vaccine at some point as I am going into the healthcare field,” senior Grace Amori said. “I’ve learned over the last year that it’s so easy for your life to be completely turned upside down at any moment, and honestly I’m just looking forward to being able to go to concerts and live life again.”
As of January 11, over 233,000 doses of the two authorized vaccines had been administered across Michigan. As of the same date, over 584,000 doses had been distributed across the state, meaning more than half of the distributed doses have not yet been administered or are being used for the second dose of the vaccine.
“This vaccine will give me extra immune protection as I care for my patients,” Wayne State University nursing student and RHS alum Max Skolnik said. “While I will be working on a non-COVID floor, that doesn’t mean there’s a 0% risk of transmission. Even with my vaccination I will still be wearing an N95, normal face mask, and face shield to stay safe.”
The Pfizer vaccine has a 21-day period between the priming dose and the booster shot, whereas the Moderna vaccine has a 28-day waiting period.
Both vaccines have received widespread concern over their safety and efficacy after being formulated and approved in less than a year. Additionally, many are hesitant about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines specifically, as both are an mRNA vaccine that some believe could alter human DNA.
Anti-vaccination groups were some of the first to speak out against the COVID vaccine, citing similar reasoning to that used against vaccines for diseases such as polio and measles.
Many Americans also fear possible side effects of the vaccine. According to the FDA, the most common side effects include fatigue, headache, chills, fever, and joint/muscle pain, all of which are common with any vaccine as the body builds immunity.
“The vaccine wasn’t painful, it felt like any other routine vaccine you would get,” Skolnik said. “The only side effect I’ve had is pain at the injection site, which is common across the board for many vaccines.”
To help combat this widespread fear, many celebrities, healthcare workers, and other prominent figures have shared photos of themselves during or after receiving the vaccine on social media.
In order to file for FDA emergency use authorization, which is what has allowed the distribution of the two current COVID vaccines, clinical trials and extensive testing must be performed to prove the vaccine’s safety and efficacy.
“To those that are hesitant to get this vaccine, know that this is a personal choice that only you can make, and that no one should shame you for it,” Skolnik said. “I urge you, however, if you’re skeptical, to visit the CDC, Pfizer, and Moderna websites to learn more about the coronavirus and the vaccines currently being administered.”